I spent all summer alternately anticipating and dreading this remake. I loved the original Melrose Place. Now, in what I swear is sheer coincidence, I live about ten minutes away from the actual Melrose Place, and can judge this show not only on its entertainment value but on how accurately it portrays life in a very specific section of Los Angeles. I am pleased that, despite some bad reviews, this pilot kicked ass. No, it’s not Mad Men. It’s not trying to be. It’s soapy, escapist, glossy fun.
The Melrose Play-cers
Ella — An ambitious publicist with an inexplicable crush on film geek Jonah. Picture Sex & The City’s Samantha Jones at 25. She’s also got a flirty friendship with bad boy David and, oh yeah, she’s bisexual. Unlike the old Melrose, which never let Gay Matt have any sort of on-camera sex, Ella already hooked up with a hot girl by the end of the pilot. Potential Awesomeness: Amanda Woodward
David — Ex-drug dealer with major Daddy issues, Dad being Michael Mancini. His idea of sticking it to his old man is sleeping with Sydney, which is delightfully freudian and proves Sydney is not his mother. At least I hope it does. With Melrose, one never knows. David is really hot and seems to have inherited his father’s sarcasm gene. I have to love him. Potential Awesomeness: Peter Burns
Lauren – A medical intern who is apparently not willing to apply for med school loans, but will prostitute herself to pay her tuition. I hope Michael Mancini’s the Chief of Staff because she’s his kind of doctor. Lauren gets L.A. accuracy points for not being white, though loses a couple because making the Asian woman a doctor is stereotypical. Potential Awesomeness: Jo Reynolds
Auggie –The first thing you need to know about Auggie is that he’s played by Colin Egglesfield, best known as Josh, Erica Kane’s aborted fetus (it’s a long story) on All My Children. I can think of no better preparation for joining the cast of Melrose Place. Auggie is a 12-stepper, a chef, and a friend of Sydney’s. We didn’t see much of him in the pilot, but he seems interesting. Potential awesomeness: Jake Hanson
Jonah: I cannot be objective about Jonah. The film geek with the massive comic book collection is every single guy I’ve dated. Ladies, this is what artsy L.A. men are actually like: immature beta males. So I want to murder Jonah even as I find him the most realistic character on the show. Jonah hits every note: the resentment that he has to earn a living when he’s a misunderstood genius, the ability to blow every opportunity that comes his way, the self-absorption as well as the humor and sweetness. Potential awesomeness: Billy Campbell
Riley: Jonah’s girlfriend, a super sweet, wholesome first grade teacher. If she were a real L.A. teacher she’d be complaining that there are 40 students in her class who speak 20 different languages. So far, she is the most boring character on the show. Potential awesomeness: Matt Fielding
Violet: Violet’s first problem is that she’s played by Ashlee Simpson Wentz, and to be perfectly honest, she acts almost as well as she sings. Violet is the seemingly naive new girl in town, but she’s got a bit of the crazy in her. Her red hair and the fact that she stole Sydney’s photo from the makeshift memorial makes it a good bet that she’s Sydney’s daughter. Potential awesomeness: Brooke Armstrong
Michael Freakin’ Mancini From the moment he pulled up in his McLaren, it was clear that Michael was still the badass I knew and loved. Awesome moments from the pilot included kicking his wayward son David out of a car on a bridge in Skid Row, a flashback argument with Sydney about their affair and the revelation that he has yet another wife. Potential Awesomeness: Michael Mancini
Sydney Andrews: You thought she was dead… you were wrong… then you were right. Sydney, now the landlord of Melrose Place, apparently faked her dealth on the original series with Michael’s help. Just go with it. Ten minutes into this episode, her bloody corpse popped up in the swimming pool in what I choose to believe was a subtle homage to Sunset Boulevard. Fortunately, it looks like she will live on in flashbacks as the whodunnit is unraveled across multiple episodes. I hope she’s resurrected again. Potential awesomeness: Kimberly Shaw
The Melrose 2.0 Premiere
Sydney is dead… again
Violet finds Sydney’s body floating in the pool, and everyone is a potential suspect. Ella gives David an alibi, but the hot investigating cop doesn’t seem entirely convinced. David’s father, Michael(!), shows up at the police station to make sure he wasn’t in trouble again. Here’s what we know so far: shortly before she died Sydney told David she knew things that could get him into trouble. Ella told David that Sydney was sleeping with Michael. Sydney got Ella her job, rescuing her from a life of Juicy sweatsuits and French tips. (I wondered if that meant Ella is from Orange County.) Sydney threatened to tell Michael’s wife that they were having an affair. After a courtyard memorial service for Sydney, Auggie burns a bloody shirt. David steals a painting and burns it. Violet steals Sydney’s photo. Michael shares a bed with his wife and child. So who did it? I’ll speculate Riley, because no one living at Melrose Place can possibly be that nice.
One Way To Avoid Student Loans
Lauren’s father loses his job and won’t be able to pay her Med School tuition. A normal person would apply for a loan. But Lauren is flummoxed. Toby, the son of a patient, asks her to dinner. He’s a New York executive. He suggests they have a one night stand. When she turns him down, he offers her five grand to sleep with him. If she were Sydney, she’d tell him that med school costs a lot more than that. Instead, she leaves only to go to his hotel room after Violet points out that “5,000 dollars is a lot of money.” I hope Lauren is not on duty if I ever end up in the emergency room.
The Stupidest Aspiring Director In Los Angeles
Jonah asks Riley to marry him, only to be interrupted by the discovery of Sydney’s corpse. So he passive-aggressively brings up the proposal again when she’s halfway out the door then gets pissy when she doesn’t have an answer.
Ella gets Jonah a job filming a producer named Gary Sardling’s daughter’s birthday party. Jonah acts like filming the party is beneath him. Ella has to prod Jonah to talk to Gary. It’s obvious she has a crush on Jonah. This makes no sense. Guys like Jonah date the sweet, quirky girls but fantasize about the prom queen. Ella’s the prom queen. All she’d have to do is come on to him, and she’d have him. In any case, Jonah takes the wrong conversational tact with Gary and gets bitchslapped for using his job to pimp his student film. I felt a twinge of sympathy for Jonah.
Jonah stumbles onto the opportunity of a lifetime when he accidentally films Gary making out with his mistress. Gary offers him ten grand for the film. Jonah points out it’s on the same memory card as the birthday party, but promises to delete it. Gary thinks Jonah’s driving a hard bargain and ends up offering him $100,000 to write and direct the feature version of his undoubtedly self-indulgent short. Gary is offering to make his dreams come true in exchange for keeping a secret he was going to keep anyway. Talk about a win-win, especially since nobody is buying spec scripts anymore. Jonah fears success… er, has too much integrity, and turns it down. For some reason, learning that Jonah walked away from his big break inspires Riley to accept his proposal. I guess she enjoys poverty. Ella is not happy they’re engaged. She cheers herself up by making out with a girl.
Best West Hollywood Adjacent Verisimilitude
Jonah talks about going to see a midnight showing of Reservoir Dogs at the New Beverly. I cracked up because I went on this precise date last year.
Ella name drops uber-publicist Pat Kingsley.
Not Quite Right
Toby claims that he’s glad to be back in L.A. because he missed the burritos at El Cholo, a venerable Mexican restaurant for sit-down meals, not burritos. Real Angelenos crave taco truck burritos and track their favorites on Twitter.
Riley tells Jonah that an agent from Endeavor called. Endeavor merged with William Morris, so the agent should be from WME.